This winter, the AGGV is excited and honoured to present the stunning and impactful photographic works of artist Kali Spitzer. Her works were introduced to me by our former Chief Curator, Jaimie Isaac, and it has been a privilege to work with Kali on developing an exhibition over the last year. Kali is Kaska Dena from Daylu (Lower Post, british columbia) on her father’s side. Her father is a survivor of residential schools and canadian genocide. On her mother’s side she is Jewish from Transylvania, Romania.
Her work embraces the stories of contemporary BIPOC, queer and trans bodies, creating representation that is self determined, with her collaborative process being informed by the desire to rewrite the visual histories of Indigenous bodies beyond a colonial lens. As a queer, Indigenous person myself, I find Kali’s work to be affirming, beautiful, and a breath of fresh air within the photography space. Kali carefully, tenderly, and intentionally works with her subjects to create remarkable images that speak to identity in many facets, whether it be race, gender, sexuality, culture, or a mixture of all intersections. Her dedication to trust and comfort between herself and the people she is photographing is evident throughout her different series.
Bodies of, Bodies Within, will show two of Kali’s series: her “Our Bodies” series and “An Exploration of Resilience and Resistance”. Both series utilize a different form of photography, 35mm film photography and tintype photography, respectively. The “Our Bodies” photos show soft tones of blue, pink, and green backgrounds with floral props, adorning the unclothed bodies that are captured in the images. Heads of hair decorated with petals and leaves, and people arranged casually and comfortably together, these images evoke a sincere sweetness and a palpable sense of intimacy.
Contrasting these photos are her “An Exploration of Resilience and Resistance” series, which show head and torso shots of individuals or couples, in different states of undress and self-representation. These tintypes are shades of grey, black, and white, and at first glance appear harsh in comparison to the softer hues of “Our Bodies”. There is, however, an ease and relaxedness to the subjects of these photos that demonstrates the tenderness at play throughout Kali’s entire practice. About the project Kali says: “Through the timeless lens of tintype photography, I photograph my community of primarily Indigenous and mixed heritage people to illuminate our stories.”
Kali’s work will be up at the gallery between November 18th, 2023 and March 17th, 2024. Bodies of, Bodies Within captures the stories, identities, and perspectives of Kali Spitzer, her community, and kin.
Written by Mel Granley, AGGV Assistant Curator
Feature Image: Kali Spitzer, black and white tintypes, 2022.